BBC Storyville: McLibel 2006.01 30 avi
McLibel is the true story of a postman and a gardener who took on McDonald's and wouldn't say "McSorry," in a legal battle since described as "the biggest corporate PR disaster in history." McDonald's loved using the UK's libel laws to suppress criticism.
Major media organizations like the BBC and The Sun had crumbled and apologized. But then McDonald's sued penniless activists' Helen Steel and Dave Morris. In what became the longest trial in English legal history, the "McLibel 2" represented themselves against McDonald's USD$19 million legal team.
Every aspect of the corporation's business was cross-examined: from junk food and McJobs, to animal cruelty, environmental damage and the company's advertising to children. McDonald's tried every trick in the book against them. Legal maneuvers. A visit from Ronald McDonald.
Top U.S.executives flying to London for secret settlement negotiations. Even spies. Seven years later, in February 2005, the marathon legal battle finally concluded in the European Court of Human Rights. And the result took everyone by surprise - especially the British Government.
Filmed over ten years by no-budget Director Franny Armstrong (Drowned Out), McLibel features reenactments of key courtroom scenes directed by Ken Loach. McLibel is not about hamburgers. It is about the power multinational corporations wield over our everyday lives and two unlikely heroes who are changing McWorld.
The verdict was devastating for McDonald's. The judge ruled that they 'exploit children' with their advertising, produce 'misleading' advertising, are 'culpably responsible' for cruelty to animals, are 'antipathetic' to unionisation and pay their workers low wages. But Helen and Dave failed to prove all the points and so the Judge ruled that they HAD libelled McDonald's and should pay 60,000 pounds damages.
They refused and McDonald's knew better than to pursue it. In March 1999 the Court of Appeal made further rulings that it was fair comment to say that McDonald's employees worldwide "do badly in terms of pay and conditions", and true that "if one eats enough McDonald's food, one's diet may well become high in fat etc., with the very real risk of heart disease."
As a result of the court case, the Anti-McDonald's campaign mushroomed, the press coverage increased exponentially, this website was born and a feature length documentary was broadcast round the world.
The legal controversy continued. The McLibel 2 took the British Government to the European Court of Human Rights to defend the public's right to criticise multinationals, claiming UK libel laws are oppressive and unfair that they were denied a fair trial. The court ruled in favour of Helen and Dave: the case had breached their their rights to freedom of expression and a fair trial.
Who said ordinary people can't change the world?
Dec 03, 2007, 18:26:21
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